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Rushe reckons goals can Tipp the balance

IN the ever-eventful life of Liam Rushe, this season has featured no less than five matches against Sunday’s All-Ireland final protagonists.

Two league meetings (a draw and a win), one championship defeat by Kilkenny and a league victory and All-Ireland semi-final loss to Tipperary means the |St Pat’s of Palmerstown man and current frontrunner for Young Hurler of the Year has an almost intimate knowledge of what makes the big two tick.

“It’s almost impossible to pick a winner,” he reckoned this week at the launch of the Kilmacud Crokes Sevens hurling tournament.

“My gut instinct would go with Tipperary but having said that, it will depend on who gets the goals. If you look at 2009, Eoin Kelly slipped and there was a few blocks and Tipp missed their goals chances whereas Kilkenny took theirs.

“Last year, Tipp took all their goal chances. So whoever gets the goals will take it.”

The debate over which is the toughest of the superpowers is another one to which Rushe can quite knowingly contribute and, asked against which team he found himself nursing more bruises, the Dublin under-21 captain replied: “Definitely the Tipperary match. I was shattered after it.

“To be honest, that was probably because we really put ourselves about in that match more so than the Leinster final.

“The Leinster final, we were just chasing shadows. We probably didn’t put a hit in for 70 minutes.”

Given he has spent the season fluctuating between centre-back, midfield and wing-forward, Rushe has always witnessed at close quarters the effectiveness of both team’s defence and, in particular, he was impressed with the Kilkenny alignment.

“They just keep it so compact,” Rushe noted. “It’s tough to play against that.

“They play the six...there is almost always eight Kilkenny players in their half. That crowds out space. But Tipp are fantastic at finding space.

“If there is a team that can find the cracks, it’s Tipp.”